Baylor aiming for Intelligent Design on field

TO THE CHAGRIN OF BAYLOR football fans, once steeped in the steady success of Grant Teaff during his Hall of Fame coaching career that concluded in 1992, their East-Central Texas school is now better known for its controversial role in the dubious effort to move the study of creationism, typically limited to philosophy and religion classes, into the arena of science.

Once upon a time, the name Baylor conjured images of a giant slayer in the Southwest Conference. In the late 70s and early 80s, Bears All-American Mike Singletary, tenacious on the field and a scholar off it, was the exemplar of all that was good about college football.

Nowadays you mention Baylor and you're more likely to get a blank stare or a reference to Charles Darwin rolling over in his grave.

Indeed, on the gridiron, the Bears of the last decade could have used a heavy infusion of intelligent design. They've gone 10 straight seasons without a winning record. Last year's 5-6 showing marked the first time in eight campaigns they won more than three games.

In the halls of academia, however, Baylor has been a regular in the headlines.

The File On
A private Baptist-affiliated research university founded in 1845. It is the largest Baptist university in the world. Named in honor of Judge R. E. B. Baylor

On the banks of the Brazos River in Waco, Texas, a community of 200,000 people.


For Church, For Texas

NFL Hall of Famer Mike Singletary; former Texas Gov. Ann Richards; legendary Iowa football coach Hayden Fry; World War II hero Joe Dawson; Singer Willie Nelson attended the school for one year.

Baylor and the soft drink Dr. Pepper are forever linked through a school tradition that began in 1953 when the director of the Union Building scheduled a special hour each week for students to enjoy a "frosted Dr Pepper" and "talk amongst themselves." The beverages vary sometimes, but the atmosphere and fellowship remain the same all these years later.

Freshmen are required to attend chapel each week. Dancing has been allowed for the last 10 years.

Baylor head coach Guy Morriss, an All-Pro center for the Eagles in the 1970s, has two of his old teammates –- also one-time All-Pros –- on staff at Baylor: defensive coordinator Bill Bradley and receivers coach Harold Jackson.

WSU and Baylor have played four times. Baylor leads 3-1. The last meeting was in the 1994 Alamo Bowl, which the Cougars won 10-3 thanks to the Palouse Posse defense of Ron Childs, DeWayne Patterson, John Rushing, et. al. That game marked Baylor's last bowl appearance

It started with the school's creation of an Intelligent Design research center in 1999 and ended with what has been described as a pitched battle between moderate and fundamentalist Christians for the soul of the university. In the process, wrote a national magazine, "one university president fell, the theory of Intelligent Design was wedged into the curriculum and then railroaded out, the faculty went to the mat to defend its academic freedom policy, alumni groups splintered, and headlines screamed blow-by-blow accounts."

Ironically, Baylor's public relations woes and internal identity crisis can be traced to the city where the Bears will be playing Washington State's Cougars this Saturday: Seattle.

The notion of refashioning creationism into "intelligent design," and then pushing it as legitimate science rather than philosophy or faith, was hatched at the Seattle-based Discovery Institute. And Baylor came to Seattle to find a director for its now-defunct Intelligent Design research center.

When it comes to evolution, though, Baylor head coach Guy Morriss is hell bent on transmutating the Bears back into winners. The former Philadelphia Eagles standout and Kentucky head coach has by all accounts got Baylor back on the road to respectability. Last year, his third in Waco, the Bears started 3-0 and later won their first-ever Big 12 road game, at Iowa State, since joining the conference in 1996. The season before, the Bears pulled a huge upset when they knocked off former Southwest Conference rival Texas A&M.

Baylor is 1-1 this season. They trounced Division I-AA Northwestern State of Louisiana 47-10 on Saturday and fell to No. 22-ranked TCU 17-7 the week before. The TCU game offered a couple of interesting twists. Baylor held the Horned Frogs scoreless in the first half -– the first time they'd done that to a Division I-A opponent since 2000. And, they lost the game -– the first time under Morriss that the Bears held an opponent to less than 20 points and failed to win.

The undisputed leaders of the Bears are quarterback Shawn Bell and cornerback C.J. Wilson. Bell, named to the 2006 Manning Award Watch List., is a fifth-year senior and already Baylor's all-time leader in completion percentage (.599), touchdown-to-interception ratio (2.71) and interception percentage (.013). He also ranks in the top 10 in a slew of other categories. Wilson is a Thorpe Award and All-America candidate. He recorded 45 tackles as a junior to rank seventh on the squad. He recorded a team-high five interceptions and had five pass breakups.

As for Washington State, Coach Morriss is concerned with ball control.

"Well I talked to (offensive coordinator) Lee [Hays] who was up here last night watching their stuff," Morriss said Sunday. "Our offense is going to have to play this week. We're going to have to help our defense out like they've helped us out in the last two. They have a very good offense. Hopefully, we can move the ball and take advantage of opportunities so we can put some points up."

Kick off is set for 2 pm at Qwest Field. Oddsmakers have installed the Cougars as 13 1/2-point favorites.

Injury Update
Out Indefinitely – Zach Enyeart (8/23 knee sprain), Joe Eppele (9/7 shoulder surgery), Scott Friberg (8/22 hip/right knee sprain), Arkelon Hall (8/12 fibula fracture), Ansley Jean-Jacques (9/9 thumb surgery), Grady Maxwell (8/11 knee surgery), Matt Mullennix (9/6 ACL surgery), Andy Roof (8/11 thumb surgery), Jason Stripling (shoulder surgery recovery).
No Practice – Faevae'i Ahmu (8/29 partial stress fracture, foot), Markus Dawes (9/2 high ankle sprain)
Limited – Don Turner (9/2 hip contusion), Michael Willis (9/2 shoulder sprain), DeMaundray Woolridge (9/2 thigh bruise)

X-rays on Cody Boyd's injured hand were negative, Washington State SID said Tuesday afternoon. The senior tight end, who hurt his hand in Washington State's 56-10 win over Idaho Saturday, is expected to practice Tuesday.

Cougfan Top Stories